ALLEN(CBSDFW.COM) The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) and Attorney General Greg Abbott issued a consumer alert Monday regarding a new utility bill payment scam.

According to the DSHS and Attorney General, would-be scammers are contacting customers claiming that a new federal program has been established to provide free utility bill payment credits, or to apply payments on the customers’ behalf. Utility customers are then asked to provide their Social Security and personal bank routing numbers and are given a fraudulent “Federal Reserve bank routing number” to use in paying their utility bills.

This federal program does not exist and consumers are still responsible for their utility bills if they use the scam’s fake “Federal Reserve bank routing number” to pay.

The DSHS and Attorney General advise consumers to use these tips to avoid this scam:

  • Never provide Social Security numbers, credit card numbers or bank account information to anyone who requests it during an unsolicited phone call or in-home visit.
  • If someone calls claiming to represent the local utility company and demands immediate payment or personal information, call recipients should hang up the phone and call the customer service number on their utility bill.
  • Never allow anyone into your home to check electrical wiring, natural gas pipes or appliances unless an appointment has been scheduled or a utility problem has been reported. Anytime a utility employee arrives at a residence, the occupant should require that the employee produce proper identification.

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